Prisoners Still to be Counted as State Residents

Prison based Gerrymandering.

Prison-Based Gerrymandering.

Census Bureau Proposed Prisoner Residence Rules Inflate Power of Some States

by Aleks Kajstura

The U.S. Census Bureau released its proposed 2020 Census ‘residence rules’ that ignore overwhelming public input supporting a change in how incarcerated persons are counted in the Census. The Bureau announced it is leaving in place the inaccurate and outdated practice of counting incarcerated persons as “residents” of the prison location instead of their home communities. Interested stakeholders have until September 1 to submit comments before this proposal becomes final.

We’ve released our statement on these developments, and we’re working on our comment to the Bureau now, but it would be useful for the Bureau to hear from a diverse coalition of people. There are an impressive variety of reasons why the Bureau’s proposal to count incarcerated people at the location of the facility where they happen to be located on Census day is wrong and needs to be changed.

Here are a couple of talking points you can use to get started:

  • The Census Bureau is wrong to consider incarcerated people as residents of the correctional facility because [insert your own reason why people do not “live” in the prison.]
  • The Bureau has chosen to continue counting people in the wrong place, ensuring an inaccurate 2020 Census. [Describe how that impacts your community (counting incarcerated people as if they were “residents” of the correctional facility makes the Census less accurate for everyone: rural and urban communities; incarcerated persons and their families; governmental authorities trying to draw accurate redistricting plans; researchers trying to understand the demographics of local communities)]

Written comments regarding the proposed “2020 Census Residence Rule and Residence Situations” can be emailed by September 1 to Karen Humes, Chief, Population Division at [email protected]



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